“This is what I really want to do; music isn’t just a hobby for me,” says the Sheriff’s Department veteran (over 10 years at the Encinitas station). His debut CD The Spring Collection was recorded at a local recording studio owned by Stereotypes drummer Mike Kamoo (who also produced and engineered).
Teen stringsmith Derek Duplessie performs on pedal steel guitar, and Mendoza’s brother Bart Mendoza, of the Shambles and Manual Scan, plays bass and sings backup. “Bart kind of knew that I played guitar and sang,” he says. “A couple of years back, he heard me playing some originals at our mom’s house, and he suggested we go into the studio and record. I’d been a closet player until then. I hadn’t played in public...the first one we did together was a Christmas song.”
Once he began playing solo acoustic sets, his professions were known to cross. “I’ve been coaxed into picking up a guitar a couple of times while on duty. I walk into a bar where I've played before and, I don’t know, the peer pressure is kind of hard to resist if someone begs me to play a song. A lot of other officers know what I do; I’ve played at a few [police department] picnics. I actually sold five CDs at work [laughs]. I wouldn’t bill myself as the Singing Cop, though.”
Although Mendoza performs a few covers (Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” being the only one on his CD), he prefers doing original songs. Asked if his music is similar to his brother’s 1960s-influenced power pop, he says, “I write love songs, Bart writes relationship songs.”
The difference? “My songs are really straightforward, more country. They’re about loves lost and loves won, standard I love you, I hate you, I miss you kind of songs. His stuff is a little harder to understand, you know? It’s not always easy to tell what he’s singing about.”
In late 2010, the Spring Collection landed a track on the British Christmas album Power Chords, Harmonies and Mistletoe, from UK label Twist Records. The following year, he began recording his third album at Earthling Studios with Mike Kamoo at the board and on drums. Over a dozen original demos were taped, as well as a cover of Ron Flynt’s “Picasso’s Big Blue Heart.”